Letter writing is almost a lost art in these days of emails and texting.
Until I devoted my journalistic efforts to this continuing blog, Diane and I were having fun with our new hobby: writing letters to the editor of the National Post. Many were published, some were not. Now we’ve switched our subscription to The Globe and Mail. They haven’t published the two letters I’ve written so far. Perhaps my attempts at humour are off-target for the staid old Mop & Pail (long-time columnist Richard Needham’s nickname for the paper). However, amazing editorial coincidences were involved, which I have to share.
My first unpublished letter:
The Editor, Globe and Mail — February 25, 2013
Sir: In all the fuss about the Academy award nominated movie Argo failing to represent the truth about Canada’s contribution to the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, commentators have forgotten that a perfectly acceptable Canadian television movie version was broadcast on CTV and CBS in 1981. Produced by Canadian film maker Les Harris and starring Gordon Pinsent in the role of Ambassador Taylor, Escape from Tehran: The Canadian Caper stuck to the facts. Even then, according to Mr. Harris, CBS wanted to “Hollywoodize” the story, though he resisted.
Coincidence or not? Their February 27 editorial finally mentions Escape from Tehran.
My second unpublished letter:
The Editor, Globe and Mail — March 1, 2013
Sir: As a former Londoner, I have been amused by reports that the recent UK by-election fracas took place “south of London.” Of course, to Londoners and London-centric media, everywhere in England is either south or north of London. On the MI motorway leading north out of town, there is a big sign that reads The North, and to Londoners the north does indeed start there. In fact, Eastleigh, where my cousin lives, is just a small and fairly unimportant bedroom suburb of Southampton, on the coast, as far south of London as you can drive without getting wet.
Coincidence or not? A correction notice on March 2 noted that the riding of Eastleigh did not in fact stretch from south of London to the coast.
We had much more success at the National Post.
The Editor, National Post — October 1, 2012
Sir: Re “What grinds my gears?” Bureaucratic waste — Foolish bureaucrats making stupid decisions based on the will of their feeble-minded political masters. Signs outside countless civic developments cry “Paid for by the city of…” or “province of…” or “government of…” No, no, no, we’re paying for it. It’s the taxpayers money they are throwing around.
The Editor, National Post — September 25, 2012 — from Diane
Sir: Re “Hating the Jew, hating the gypsy,” my 92-year-old mother, living in a pretty little English village, would be astonished to find herself lumped in by Messrs Farber, Leipciger and Rosensweig with neo-Nazi skinheads because of her objection to the large illegal “traveller” (a.k.a. Roma) encampment that has descended on her village. Many of these encampments are on Green Belt, pastoral land in defiance of all planning restrictions, and they cause an enormous amount of distress to the settled population. [Edited out — Your commentators have at least acknowledged that statistics have clearly demonstrated a significant increase in theft by those living in Roma encampments in Europe and anyone living near one will attest to this.] Comparing concern about these potential false refugee claimants in Canada to anti-Semitism is self-serving in the extreme and only succeeds in undermining the correct application of our immigration policy.
The Editor, National Post — July 12, 2012 — from Diane
Sir: The continuing and inconsequential Stetson discussion on your letters pages detracts from a vastly more important issue at the Calgary Stampede. That is animal cruelty. The horrific deaths of three horses in the chuck wagon race yesterday, and many more in years past, emphasizes the pain and suffering visited on these animals in the name of entertainment. It shames the stampede participants, officials, and audience. It shames the rest of us who do nothing about it. It shames the Calgarians and visitors who strut around in their Stetsons. Thomas Mulcair should do something more useful during his visit to the stampede than show off his new hat. He should call for an immediate ban on this cruel sport.
The Editor, National Post — July 10, 2012 — from Diane
Sir: The Calgary Stampede is a disgrace, so bravo to Bell for pulling out as a sponsor this year. This debate has nothing to do with political correctness but everything to do with cruelty to animals, racing chuck wagon horses to their death, making bulls buck by agonisingly tightening a strap around their kidneys, and more, should repulse all thinking human beings. The argument that it has been a tradition for 100 years, is a poor one. Should we bring back the “traditions” of bear baiting, cock fighting and fox hunting just to amuse mankind. The thought of cruelty as entertainment should disgust us all.
The Editor, National Post — May 28, 2011
Sir: I was amused to read today that incoming Target stores will call their customers “guests.” I will enjoy being a customer at Target, but I don’t plan to stay the night. When I’m staying at a hotel I am very happy to be a guest. However, the use of guest is becoming ubiquitous. I certainly don’t want to be a “guest” of the prison system. Similarly, when I fly I’d like to be a “passenger” and when I end up in hospital I prefer to be a “patient.” Indeed, I am very satisfied as a “reader” of your newspaper. I hope you don’t think of me as a “guest” on your letters page.
NOTE: It’s amusing to read this letter years later after not only Target but all their “guests” have fled the Canadian market.
The Editor, National Post — November 18, 2010
Sir: I’m glad to see that a hyphenated writer tried to explain the unexplainable to Canadians: it brought a bit of class to the story of the new royal fiancée’s middle class origins. Unfortunately, Afsun Quereshi-Smith did not fully understand the extent to the divisions that still exist in the land that invented snobbery. At the top of the society heap are the royals, of course. The nobility and the aristocracy follow. Then the landed gentry are the ones with land but no titles, originally the only others allowed to vote. That comprises the “upper class.” Those in business are the vast span of the “middle class,” with many subtle divisions in between. Those who really do all the grunt labour were the original “working class” ranging from clerks and shop keepers to factory, mine and farm workers. With the increased wealth and diversity of the Victorian era many tried to move up in their class, sending their children to private boarding schools, known contrarily as “public schools,” sticking a hyphen in their name to emulate the minor aristocracy and learning the posh accent of Received Pronunciation or Queen’s English. That created an “upper middle class” and moved a very few successful trades people from the working class to the “lower middle class.” Such was the system I left more than 40 years ago to come to the land of meritocracy and which I saw in action last week when I visited my mother in England, a woman who proudly traces her ancestry back to a Wiltshire manor property owner in the 15th Century.
Editor, National Post — June 8, 2010
Sir: Two items in my morning mail, both guaranteed to increase my blood pressure: One, my annual note from the tax people confirming how much I owe them. Two, the “$1.9 million fake lake” headline in your paper. Since I am clearly paying for this latter idiocy with my hard earned dollars, rather than sitting in Muskoka chairs beside a reflecting pool, I vote instead for putting every attending G-journo in a separate taxi and driving them to a real lake. How about the one less than 200 yards south of the media centre? Surely that would be a better way of spending my money. Increased employment for taxi drivers, increased revenue from gas taxes and so on. Sometimes these guys in Ottawa forget it’s our money they’re wasting.
Editor, National Post — May 25, 2010 — from Diane
Sir: I hate dandelions. The sight of endless vistas of yellow-headed invasive weeds in every park, highway verge and by-way send me into a rant. And the parks department seems resigned to allow them to mature into fluffy seed heads. Get out your tractors and mowers now, guys, while we still have a chance. The tiny plot of lawn in front of my house is, by dint of hand-digging, weed free, but the seeds of dissent are blowing in from every other patch of green in Toronto.
Occasionally I hit one out of the park and get a letter published in an international magazine, in this case The Spectator. Please check out DON’T MESS WITH NIGEL for the whole story.